Marcus Fraser of Australia shot a second consecutive 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Australian Open on Friday.
Fraser had five birdies and two bogeys to move to 6-under 138 at The Lakes. Fellow Australians Brendan Jones (71) and first-round leader John Senden (73) were tied for second.
Englishman Justin Rose was in a group tied for fifth at 3-under after a 73, while Adam Scott shot 71 and was five strokes behind Fraser.
Tom Watson shot a 68 Friday after his first-round 78 and made the cut with one stroke to spare. He was joined by playing partner and defending champion Greg Chalmers, who shot 75 Friday.
”I hate missing cuts, I really do,” said Watson. ”That means you’ve failed.”
Chalmers said he would be hard-pressed to win his third national Open after failing to capitalize on good scoring conditions in the morning.
”Three par-5s on the back nine and I bogeyed two of them. That’s not going to work if you want to have a good score out here,” he said.
”I guess I’m going to get to play on the weekend so I get to go out and shoot a low score, but certainly I’m probably going to start a long way back.”
Fellow two-time champion Robert Allenby (6-over) didn’t qualify after a 77, nor did new U.S. PGA Tour card winner Steven Bowditch (9-over) after a 76.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur who will play in next year’s U.S. Masters, improved on his opening 82 to shoot 70 Friday, but also missed the cut.
Fraser is playing for the seventh consecutive week – in his seventh country. He’ll travel to Malaysia next week to see if he can win the Asian Tour money title – he is currently second – making it eight tournaments in a row.
His grueling late-season schedule began in Malaysia in late September followed by China (the HSBC tournament), the Singapore Open, the Hong Kong Open, the European Tour’s championship in Dubai, then a failed attempt to secure a 2013 U.S. PGA Tour card in California last week.
On Thursday, Fraser was 3-over after 10 holes but staged a remarkable turnaround – he birdied Nos. 11-14, then holed his tee shot at the par-3 15th for an ace.
”To have one go in like that, it turned the round and the tournament around from where I was,” Fraser said.
And he’s keen to go even better on the weekend.
”I’ve been playing so much I feel like I’m going with the flow a little bit,” Fraser said. ”Playing week-in, week-out you’re going through the same routine every day and it feels like another golf tournament. At the same time it is the Aussie Open. Definitely it’s the pick of the bunch of the eight weeks for me.”